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Ways to help your Call Center employees handle stress Effectively

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Call center managers are often under pressure to get responsibilities completed within the deadlines, sometimes having to work with fewer resources than they would have wished for.

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Ways to help your Call Center employees handle stress Effectively

  1. 1. How to help your Call Center employees handle stress Effectively
  2. 2. Introduction  Call center managers are often under pressure to get tasks completed within strict deadlines, sometimes having to work with less resources than they would have hoped for.  As a result, it is but obvious that managers demand the best out of their teams – be it in terms of commitment, working hours, work schedule, targets assigned or performance optimization.  However, in doing so, managers can sometimes push agents to the brink, causing one of the most problematic scenarios in the telemarketing industry – agent burnout.
  3. 3.  While we have been able to come up with different call center software that help optimize work in the call center, the basic premise of performance still lies with the agents working there.  And if they are asked to work beyond normal capacity, sooner or later they will run out of inspiration and energy to continue working.  One needs to only take a glance at the alarming attrition rates plaguing the industry, to understand how far the average agent is being stretched beyond his or her means.  Burnout is a psychological symptom that results from chronic physical, mental or emotional stress, resulting in a decline in productivity and morale, and leading to a greater number of agents opting out of the job every year.
  4. 4.  Not only does this stress affect the agent directly, it also contributes to a negative vibe around the workplace, with everybody running low on morale and impacting the overall quality of customer service being provided.  Therefore, agent burnout needs to be identified and the agents in question need to be given proper care so that they can handle the stress of the job better and continue to contribute to the organization and work for their own benefits as well.  For a manager, retaining a skilled professional is of paramount importance.  Because of the high attrition rate attached to telemarketing industries (over 30% on a global average, with the number rising above 40% in the main markets – developing countries with cheaper labor) a whole lot of time and resources dedicated to training an employee is essentially wasted if that employee chooses to leave after a year or two.
  5. 5.  Sometimes, it can turn on the other side as well, if that very same employee takes up a new job with one of your competitors and then uses the skills he learnt at his previous job to bring about profits for his new bosses.  Thus, managers need to ensure an environment of motivation, and prevent agent burnout.  This will help not only in keeping the workplace high, but also increase customer retention, help in cross-selling and save up resources in training and skill development.
  6. 6.  The most complex problems are often solved by exploring the root cause and setting it right. When hiring, managers need to look for candidates who have a penchant for innovatively getting things done even if they run into a shortage of resources.  Conducting a personality assessment test would help managers gauge which candidates are the right fit for the job.  Once you have the right men and women for the job, they are far more likely to provide better quality of service, less inclined to burning out under stress and generally more suited for high-pressure environments such as a call center. Hire the right people for the job
  7. 7.  Managers should provide more emphasis on metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score and First Call Resolutions, rather than cost-oriented metrics like Average Cost Per Call, etc.  This is because often the bare cost factor is not enough to indicate the quality of a conversation with a customer.  Every agent has their own unique way of dealing with the situation, and so they should be given the chance to prove the quality of their efforts rather than being bound to cost- oriented statistics. Focus on quality-centric metrics over quantity- centric ones
  8. 8.  Lack of clarity in communication between the managers and employees can lead to confusion, disagreement and ultimately, burnout.  As a manager, it is very important that you define a clear goal in every aspect for your employees, so that they know exactly what is expected out of them.  The managers should also be clear about the metrics that they are stressing on, so that agents are aware of how they must go about their job to bring the best possible results.  This communication is one of the most effective tools to prevent rampant agent burnout. No matter how stressful the situation, a conversation can only make it better. Set clear target expectations
  9. 9.  Modern tools have significantly reduced the requirement of human intervention in a lot of spheres. One of the best ways to prevent burnout is to provide agents with the technology they need to get their work done easily, quickly and effectively.  Repetitive processes should be automated, decision making should be based on the data being collected and agents should be encouraged to let the machines do all the dirty work, while they reserve their efforts for the customer directly.  This raises the efficiency of operations without putting much pressure on the agents themselves. Take the help of technology to prevent agent overwork
  10. 10.  If agents are allowed to handle a customer according to their best judgement, it not only helps to boost their confidence, but also increases productivity because the agent is the first person who is directly in contact with the customer and is thus in the best position to understand his exact requirements.  If an agent is not given the freedom to solve a query even though they know they can, that is one of the leading causes of burnout.  Allowing a degree of autonomy keeps agents invested in your company and interested in their work. Allow agents some degree of autonomy to make decisions
  11. 11.  Enabling individuals to feel part of a team is essential to preventing burnout. When an agent knows that there are others who have his back, who are willing to share the stress of the job and work side by side, it does a lot to help them cope with pressure situations.  Empowering teamwork means that people from different departments can come together to solve a problem, bringing their various fields of expertise into the picture and creating the best situation possible to bring out a solution.  Working in a team has been known to enhance performance not just of the team as a whole, but for its individual members too. Stress on collaboration and teamwork
  12. 12.  The job responsibilities assigned to an employee must match his skills and interest.  The perfect scenario would be if managers could assign work according to whoever is the best fit for the role, and then give each of these agents the responsibility to see their part of the project through.  In this manner, not only are you engaging in a meaningful collaboration with your employees, you are showing them your trust in their abilities.  This contributes to a positive morale and helps in preventing agent burnout. Let your agents take responsibility
  13. 13.  Everybody likes to feel appreciated.  However, call center employees often complain that their good work is taken for granted, and they do not feel valued at the company, which is why some of them opt to leave.  Putting a system in place which recognizes the exceptional efforts of agents and rewards them through recognition or incentives, allows the entire workforce to galvanize and try to put their best foot forward, since everyone is motivated to receive that appreciation. Put a recognition system in place
  14. 14.  The stress of the job can be overwhelming unless there is an outlet for agents to cool off and relax.  It is a good idea to introduce some sort of relaxation after a tough week, allowing agents to get some well-deserved rest and keeping their minds fresh for the next challenge.  This way, agents feel like their work was worth all the effort, and managers are able to ensure that their employees remain satisfied with the conditions at the workplace.  This in turn, helps in preventing agent burnout because the agents can cool off periodically. Make way for some recreation in the workplace
  15. 15.  As a manager, it is important to realize that your employees look up to you for guidance.  If you can explain to them the areas where they can improve or work on, it helps them realize their frailties and gives them a sense of purpose.  Firms where managers give frequent feedback outperform the firms that do not, by almost a 50% margin.  Thus, providing feedback about the performance of employees is important, but it needs to be done in a manner that motivates the employee to work even better and keeps the team’s morale on a high. Provide quality feedback
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